Missing

As I put son to bed tonight, he had his favourite toy clutched to his chest. A fireman. I lie  next to him, watching him lovingly pretend to put on Sam’s helmet, jacket and boots, talking through it. Then, within a split second, he’s fast asleep. It was a special moment. One of those you want to talk to someone about afterwards. But almost as soon as I’d thought it, I realised the person I wanted to tell all about it isn’t here.

All these moments. Experiencing them alone. It doesn’t seem fair. I know now that life isn’t fair. That doesn’t stop the hollow feeling though. The loneliness.

Next week is going to be a particularly difficult one. I’m bracing myself but I’m dreading it already. My heart is heavy, but full of love for my son.

Underneath your dream-lit eyes

Shades of sleep

Have driven you away

The moon is pale outside

And you are far from here

Breathing shifts your careless head

Untroubled by the chaos of our lives

Another day, another night has taken you again my dear

And you know that I’m gonna be the one

Who’ll be there

When you need someone to depend upon

When tomorrow comes

When Tomorrow Comes – Eurythmics 

 

 

 

 

When it matters

I sat in the garden last night. It was still light, and wind had died down. The sky was reflected in the glass table. The blue hues and cotton wool clouds, slowly moving.

It’s funny how certain moments in life take you back to a distant memory.

As a child I’d lie on the grass in the summer, looking at the sky. The clouds would make an assortment of shapes in my mind’s eye. Scotland on a map. A dragon’s head. They would move so slowly, and I’d keep watching them, contorting, until eventually they’d disappear.

Back then it was so much easier. What I’d give to be a young girl again. I’d relish it more. The lack of responsibility. The carefree element. Playing with my friends on our bikes in the back lane. Going on holiday, and just having to worry about how many hours I’d get every day in the swimming pool and what book to pack in my rucksack.

The sky looks different now.

Sadness

Time goes on, and the anger dissipates slightly. But it’s been replaced by a heavy sadness. It permeates everything, lying deep in the pit of my stomach. And right in the heart too.

It’s not the big things that bring it on. It’s the seemingly insignificant moments that can cut to the core.

Like last night, when I accidentally switched on the light on his side of the bed, instead of mine. When I realise the bath tap is broken and it needs fixed, but there’s no point because the house will be going on the market before long. Instinctively flinching when a car goes past, as for a split second I think it’s his. Walking along the road and worrying that I’m going to meet someone who doesn’t know. Then I might have to tell them. The song that’s come on as I write this. I used it for a video I made of our son last year. It makes me feel physically sick.

I’ve gone. Along with all the memories we had. They’re tainted now anyway, given what was to come. The loneliness is brutal. I love being with my son. I cherish the time I spend with him. I can share things with him, to an extent. But at night, when he’s asleep, there’s no-one there. Just me and my thoughts. In the morning when I wake up, there’s no-one there. I used to like singing, I used to like running. But there’s no-one to share it with. Quite honestly? It feels like my life is over. Certainly the one I had before is. I’m existing.

I’m four months in. Surely it should be getting better? But it’s not. I’m properly grieving, now that the initial shock is over. And blaming. Blaming myself. Feeling guilty. Feeling ashamed. Nothing I do is right. I’ve messed it all up. And it feels like it will never get better. I had one chance at marriage and I blew it. And it’s affected others as well. My own mother, who’s in her 60s, shouldn’t have to be constantly comforting me and dealing with the fallout which she sees first-hand every time she looks in my eyes.

I always used to look forward to things. A holiday.  A birthday party. Going to the gym. I don’t look forward to anything now. I’ve forgotten what it feels like.

I don’t want pity. That’s not the aim of this. I’m surviving. I’m holding down a full-time job. I adore my son and I’m doing everything in my power to protect him and to be the best mum I can be. I’m writing this for me. I need to get everything down. It’s cathartic. And it’s too hard to articulate to other people in any other form.

 

 

 

 

 

Let it Go. Finding Faith in the Future.

Screenshot 2019-05-08 at 21.15.04I see them every morning as I drive to work. Walking along the road together, side by side. Heading to the shop to pick up the newspaper. An unremarkable scene, some might say. To me, it’s extraordinary.

I’ve tried to write this so many times. It never feels right. But I can’t stop thinking about the elderly couple and their daily routine. So I guess that’s a good place to start.

I don’t know much about their lives. What I do know is that they have each other.

A couple of months ago my marriage fell apart. I begged him to stay. But the answer was no.

My life was completely and utterly interwoven with his, and it came as a massive shock. Memories abound. The bench by the riverbank where we got engaged. Friday night takeaways. The park where we’d sip coffees and plan our day.

Clothes steadily disappear from the wardrobe, hastily shoved into a rucksack when he thinks I’m not looking. Then there’s the stack of letters, flip-flopping onto the mat. Mortgage statements, council tax bills, insurance. Years of our lives boiled down to business transactions.

Spring has well and truly sprung. The nights are lighter, buds bloom on the big tree at the back of the house, the sun shines more brightly than before. Cars whizz past, children make their way to school and my neighbour tends to her garden. Life goes on. I’m angry.

Please return, winter. The bleak, bitterly cold nights where I can hide myself away, devouring the darkness as I sit in the bath while the candle flickers. Pretending it isn’t happening.

The summer furniture is still in the garden. Stationary relics, frozen in a game of musical statues. Haunting symbols of a happier time. The music stopped a long time ago. I can’t touch them. I can barely look at them. What a difference a year makes. Wolfing down fish and chips al fresco as the sun set, our faces still smothered in suntan lotion. That’s when it was still alright. Or maybe it wasn’t. When did it stop being alright?

Sleep is my saviour. God speed. I close my eyes and drift away. But it’s short-lived, snatched from me as the first light trickles through the curtains. Another day has dawned. He’s not coming back.

My son brings solace. The love of my life. A wonderful, glorious little boy who fills my heart with joy, pride and wonder. But it’s coupled with overwhelming worry. He’s done nothing wrong. He’s just a child with his whole life ahead of him.

The guilt consumes me during the day and engulfs me at night. Was it all my fault? Why didn’t I realise this was coming? Why didn’t I act sooner? Am I an awful person? Why couldn’t I make him happy?

I’ve started cooking. For those who know me, this will come as a massive shock. Then there’s the podcasts, Netflix’s entire back catalogue, half-hearted attempts at yoga and the occasional glass of wine. Nothing really helps. Apart from writing, I guess.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. As a child of divorced parents, it would never happen to me. No way. I wouldn’t let it. I was different. I meant my vows, but what do you do when someone decides they no longer love you? Was the relationship unsalvageable anyway? The questions come thick and fast, swirling around my head in a super-charged spin.

There’s the shame. The feeling of complete failure. I couldn’t hold my marriage together. The one thing I held sacred, the one thing that was unshakeable, my constant, my rock, the person I could rely on. It’s all been ripped apart and discarded like a piece of dirt. Run over by a massive truck at high-speed, leaving tiny specks of dust in its wake.

I can’t clear out my son’s baby clothes. I can’t think too long about the photos on the walls. The bed is bigger. The weekly shop is smaller. My heart is broken. I don’t know who I am anymore. Maybe I never did.

The loneliness is shit. They say it’s like a bereavement. Do people see me and know? Do they tell each other behind my back that they saw it coming? Are they sympathetic or do they just think I should get a grip, pull on my big girl pants and man up? I know I’ll need to do that soon.

Of course it’s not all bad. With trauma comes humility, an increased capacity for compassion, and a heightened awareness of the fickleness, fragility and unpredictability of life. I’m trying to be kinder to people, to not sweat the small stuff, to remember what really matters. It’s so easy to hurtle along at a hundred miles an hour, forgetting who you are and what you stand for. When you’re faced with a life-changing event, being able to get through the day and take joy in your family and friends is enough. In fact, it’s so much more than enough. It’s everything.

So, for now, I function. Minute by minute at times. Nothing will ever be the same again. But I do have faith. Faith that it will get better. Faith that I will get through it. And faith that even though it doesn’t feel like it, I’m already starting to pick up the pieces.

“All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”

Back to the future

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January 31st, 2011. As the black cab negotiated its way through the heaving streets, my adrenalin was rising as quickly as the meter. London. What would this sprawling metropolis hold for me? Where would I fit in?

Fast forward five years and it’s time to say goodbye. I’m returning to my home city in Scotland and wondering, once again, what the future will bring. A new chapter beckons.

As I contemplate my imminent departure I’m sad and nostalgic, but very thankful. They say that life’s what happens to you while you’re busy making plans and it’s only now that I’ve had time to reflect. I’ve gathered so many memories along the way. Those difficult early days when I thought I’d never learn the job (I did, and it got better. Much, much better). Getting used to the Tube, the hustle and bustle, the shockingly hot summers. The places I’ve lived, the friends I’ve made. Running the marathon. Drinks in the balmy sunshine. Strolls through the parks. A tour of Westminster, braving the Wimbledon queue after a nightshift. Covering the Olympics. Field producing in Italy. A trip to Oxford where I’d meet the man I’d marry. Endlessly losing my way, literally and metaphorically. I always found it in the end.

Of course it’s easy to look at things through rose-tinted glasses, as we all do when we realise something we once took for granted will be no more. London’s not for the faint-hearted. Everything operates at breakneck speed. Travelling takes forever. The prices are extortionate. Organising a simple night out with friends involves meticulous planning. But by god, it’s a wonderful place. The summer after I arrived, the city was rocked by riots. Yes, there was horror, yes there was shock, yes there was outrage. But in its aftermath, a spirit and solidarity emerged, the likes of which I’d never experienced before. For a city armed with a reputation for being cold and clinical, it unearthed a hidden heart of compassion. The following year the Olympics arrived and the capital united once again. It was friendly, it was fun, it was incredibly hard work. I felt privileged to be part of it. I’ll never forget embracing strangers as the hazy summer sun streamed through a ring-adorned Tower Bridge and Mo Farah’s jubilant face beamed from the massive TV screen. I knew it there and then: This was London at its very, very best.

However as the years went on, I found myself increasingly longing for home. Leaving Aberdeen after a wee visit became harder and harder. I yearned for the clean, fresh air. I longed for those head-clearing runs in the stunning countryside. I missed my loved ones and wanted them closer. It’s not been an easy decision. But I know it’s the right one.

So for me and my family, it’s time for pastures new. And this brings just as much nervousness and excitement as the day I arrived in London. Although I’m returning to the city where I was born and raised, I’m aware it will be very different from the last time I lived there. Despite spending most of my twenties and thirties leapfrogging around the country (Glasgow, Leeds, London, with a bit of Oxford and Swansea thrown in), it’s this move that’s the biggest step into the unknown, and not just in geographical terms. I know the true friends I’ve made down south will continue to keep in touch, and I know I’ll be back in London in the future – indeed I look forward to taking my son to the city of his birth when he’s older. I also know that from tomorrow I’ll be looking  very much ahead instead of back. But for the moment I’m content to sit back and cherish everything I’ve gained over the past five and a half years. Farewell for now, you crazy, wonderful city.

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Composed Upon Westminster Bridge – William Wordsworth:

Earth hath not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

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The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen:

The northern lights of old Aberdeen
Mean home sweet home to me
The northern lights of Aberdeen
Are what I long to see
I’ve been a wanderer all of my life
And many a sight I’ve seen
God speed the day, when I’m on my way
To my home in Aberdeen

When I was a lass, a tiny wee lass 
My mother said to me
Come see the northen lights my boy
They’re bright as they can be
She called them the heavenly dancers
Merry dancers in the sky
I’ll never forget that wonderful sight
They made the heavens bright

I’ve wandered in many far off lands
And traveled many a mile
I’ve missed the folk I’ve cherished the most
The joy of a friendly smile
It warms up the heart of the wanderer
The clasp of a welcoming hand
To greet me when I return
Home to my native land

May the Force be with you…


It was all going so well. For a couple of weeks Tom had been sleeping through the night. Bonus. I kept schtum as I didn’t want others to think I was boasting. But secretly I was chuffed to bits. Farewell sleep deprivation! Hello my bed, my oh my, how I’ve missed you. All was good in mummyland…

Ah, to go back to those carefree days, wallowing in blissful naivety. Little did I know the monster of Sleep Regression was about to rear its ugly head. And that I would be fantastically unprepared for the ensuing battle. One night Tom’s basking in a tranquil dreamscape swimming with rabbits, pastel colours and candy. The hills were fully alive with The Sound of Music as mummy runs through a meadow. She’s free, fresh as a daisy and ready to take on the world. Then, kaboom. The boy stops sleeping. Full stop. Finito. Period (best said with American accent, raised eyebrows and slow, nodding head). All of a sudden my Julie Andrews canter is felled by a huge weed shooting up from the undergrowth. Welcome to The Sound of Wailing. 

So what to do? Well, what everyone does of course. Consult the font of all knowledge, the Chosen One, the Mother of all Matriarchs. Well helloooo there Mrs Google…

Apparently what no-one told me (the buggers), is that babies’ sleep patterns can change at around four months. We now had the full Tears, Tantrums and Tiaras experience (ok, perhaps not one of them). Getting the wee loon to bed has become a mammoth undertaking. I feel like I’m in a quiz show, pushing me to the limit. 

Of course I must say at times it is quite comical and I’m sure I’ll look back and laugh at it one day (perhaps as a pensioner). I am remarkably impressed by Tom’s ability to get through a full day in Babyland and all it entails – lots of looking around, masses of wriggling and feeding and crying, peppered with a pinch of sleep – and remain wide awake by late evening. 

The other night as I tried once again in vain to soothe my unsettled son, I became aware of an unfamiliar noise. Deep, heavy breathing. It started getting louder until it became full-on Darth Vader. “Ooooh-ver…oooooh-ver, ooooh-ver.” 

“I knew this house was weird, it must be haunted”, I started thinking as my heart rate trebled and the panic rose. 

Then came the muffled giggle. “I am your father. Go to sleep.” It wasn’t in fact the spectre of north-west London. Ladies and gentlemen, I present my husband, doing his best galactic voiceover through our video monitor…if I hadn’t been so exhausted I’d have happily throttled him.

While my husband’s behaviour is pretty much par for the course, sleep deprivation has done some strange things to me: 

1. A trip to the supermarket resulted in the purchase and consumption of 20 (yes, TWENTY) Lindt chocolates. In my defence they were miniature ones. And those bad boys are really small. And yes, ok, I *may* have done this once or twice before I was in charge of a tiny human. 

2. An embarrassing moment in the coffee shop during which I found myself slurping my child’s milk from a teat while he eyed up my Frappe Latte. The most frightening aspect of this was it took me a good ten minutes to notice. ‘Teatgate’ shall never be mentioned again herewith. 

So that’s what’s been going on. I’m praying the sleep regression will reverse, and the boy’s peaceful slumber will resume. Despite wanting to punch everyone who says “this too will pass”, I’m sure it’s true. There may be a mountain to climb, but I have every faith that I will frolic in those fields, Julie Andrews-style, once again. 

Musings on Motherhood: Weapons of Mass Distraction

Bribery and babies don’t mix. Believe me, I’ve tried. “I’ll read you the cloth version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar if you stop crying?” “Cash for smiles?” The boy sizes me up, narrow-eyed, tear-stained and suspicious, contemplating the offer on the table. A sharp business mind already. But my hope is short-lived. A furrowed brow and the bottom lip-curl tells me it’s been swiftly rejected. Normal service resumes. 

Following such epic fails, I’ve embarked on a different parenting technique: Weapons of Mass Distraction. My armoury is as follows: 

  
1. The Hairdryer
Little could I have imagined when I bought my shitty wee hairdryer all those years ago that I’d be using it to pacify a 12-week-old. The discovery came during a particularly trying morning. “Mummy’s just getting ready”, I shout, as I turn it on while simultaneously trying to dress myself, pick up a sick-stained baby grow and narrowly avoid slipping on one of fifty muslins. To my amazement, as soon as I flick the switch Tom’s eyelids start to droop. Perfect! *silent fist pump in head*. Unfortunately for me the wee rascal has now cottoned on to my trick and tries every trick in the book to fight the sleep. “My hands and feet will keep moving mummy, my hands and feet will keep moving…yay!” We have a maximum sleep time of approximately two minutes. Which definitely isn’t long enough for a sly coffee. (I have attempted it.) I often daydream about slowly drinking a piping hot latte while the Hallelujah Chorus plays in the background. Magical. Wonderful. Never going to happen. 

  

Yes son, this was your mother in a previous life 
2. Singing
This is how I spend approximately two thirds of my time with the nipper. It doesn’t matter what I sing. It doesn’t matter when I sing. I sing. This method has had varying levels of success. ABC was flavour of the month until he decided he didn’t like the Jackson Five anymore. The boy doesn’t know a classic when he hears it. Tickling his toes and declaring “Tickilie tock, Tickilie tock, da da da da da da da daaaah daaaah” to the tune of Captain Pugwash is the current fave. Although I’m singing it so much I worry it will cross over into my adult life… There will come a day when I go to the bakers and skip around clicking my fingers whilst declaring “mummy’s gettin’ the bread, yeah” to the tune of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This. Dear God. 

  

Roosters, roosters everywhere. Beware 

3. The Good Old Dog and Bone

Ah the mobile phone. That glorious bastion of distraction. Before Tom arrived I downloaded two albums. I was convinced he would love them and we’d sing along together, Playschool-stylee. I was smug. I was stupid. 

Of course I also committed the cardinal sin of not listening to these ‘tunes’ properly until after the baby was here. Now our home is filled with the warblings of the 50 Greatest Nursery Rhymes by The Countdown Kids (cheer, woo hoo!) A chorus of American kids with saccharine sweet voices. Some of the tracks make no sense whatsoever, and it’s not just me that hates them. Tom and I can tolerate Old MacDonald Had A Farm, (a masterclass in memorising various animal sounds), but then we get to such gems as”I had a Rooster”. Here’s a flavour:

“My little rooster went cocka doodle doo.      Dee doodle-ee doodle-ee doodle-ee do”

And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. 
Before long the boy’s in tears again and I’m planning how hunt down that sodding bird. Your doodle-ee do days are numbered my feathered friend. 

The lullabies album is a tad more sedate (clue in the title, huh), and I tend to use it at night. But there’s a spanner in the works. A fly in the ointment. Tucked away amidst all the lovely, lilting tunes, there’s a really bloody upbeat track. Why would you do that? WHY? The bambino’s drifting off, all is well with the world, then BOOM. While I may secretly yearn for a return to my clubbing days I’m not keen to have it re-enacted in my bedroom at half seven at night, thus waking up my kiddie-wink. FFS. 

  

The boy is not impressed…

Those are my tools. Unfortunately their deployment has not been a huge success. Beleaguered and battle-weary, back to the bribery it is…

The Swimming Lesson

Babies can be hard work at the best of times. But babies and swimming pools? A mammoth undertaking.

I rock up with the bambino and two huge changing bags containing a multitude of stuff. Big trunks. Little trunks. Cardboard box. A pairs of goggles (for me, not him. Although that would be impressive for his first swimming lesson).

The reception is filled with apprehensive parents. We’re ushered through and I lug boy and bags into a teeny-tiny changing room. On opening said bags I quickly realise I’ve packed them in no real order, so the nappy and trunks are stuffed in right at the bottom. Resulting in everything being flung onto the wet floor in my haste to get him ready Great.

Trunks out. Now just to get them on. They’re made of wetsuit material so rather a tight fit. Trying to force them onto a wriggling, gurgling baby isn’t the easiest. I eventually manage, although they still hang down a bit. MC Hammer eat your heart out.

As I carry Tom into the pool I’m praying we won’t have a repeat incident of The Great British Baby Weigh Off, which involved copious amounts of urine at an inopportune time. As it turns out, another babe will trump him on that at a later date. He has a suspicious look on his face as we get into the water. His best “mummy, what the hell are we doing” demeanour. But no tears. So far, so good.

We bounce our babies around in a circle, as the instructor, a happy-clappy jazz hands type, stands in the middle shouting out instructions. We dance to his merry tune. “Sing to them!”, he exclaims. At this moment I realise I don’t know all the words. What sort of song is this anyway? Ah yes, a timeless classic apparently. What a novice.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,  Doo do, er, la la, er ooh ooh, you are….”

I’m smiling at Tom, who remains as bemused as ever.

After a few dittys and an attempt at holding baby in the swimming position, it’s time for the pièce de résistance: Underwater Time!! (smiley faces and tap dance).

The instructor explains he’ll take each baby and dunk them underwater. Preceding this, their parent is to shout “Baby’s name, ready, GO!”

We near the end of the line up and I feel a tad more reassured as I see other babies emerging from the water looking like drowned rats, but otherwise unscathed.

Tom’s turn. I put on my best smiling mummy face and fill my voice with enthusiasm. “Tom, ready, GO!”. Boom. Babe disappears under the water. Turns out he’s not a fan. As he emerges there’s a split second of silence, followed by a piercing scream. His hand shoots out,  and grabs my hair with a vice-like grip.

Oh crap. “Well done, well done, well done” is all I can think of to say, whilst giving my husband an “is he ok” look as he films it from the sidelines with a thumbs up.

After a while he calms down. We do some more singing, bouncing and hand-gliding and before we know it the lesson’s over.*

The following week, and it’s time for Tom’s next underwater excursion. I’m steeled. I’m prepared. Only one changing bag. Proper mummy. Organised mummy. Then my phone beeps.

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Welcome to #Nappygate. Thank God it wasn’t Tom. A bizarre scene then pops into my head of Mr Happy Clappy  skipping around the poolside while trying to extricate the offending specimen with a fishing net. All while Christina Aguilera’s “Dirty” plays in the background. Yup. I definitely need to get out more.

*Part of this sentence *may* be a lie.

*is

 

 

 

 

The Great British Baby Weigh Off

I’m living in a parallel universe. Klaxon: You Have Entered the World of Baby. Ah, to be that small again. This week I had to check my little one was putting on enough beef. Or, as I like to call it, The Great British Baby Weigh Off. 

Adopting my official role of Maternal Collector Gatherer, I round up the thousands of items required for venturing outdoors, get Tom in the car and set off to our nearby children’s centre. It’s worth noting this process takes approximately ten hours. 

Having only just started to drive again, I realise I’ve lost my ability to park. To be fair I never had it in the first place. Therein follows ten minutes (ok, maybe fifteen) of reversing, straightening up, reversing, swearing, sweating and a hairy encounter with the kerb.

Parking: Done. Out of car, boot open, pram frame heaved onto pavement. Unfortunately for me, I seem to have bought a belter of a transport system. A velociraptor. And this bitch can bite. It should display a warning that trying to put the wheels back on is likely to result in the loss of digits. Right. The dinosaur is primed. Return to car. Press release button on car seat base and lug out car seat complete with son. Try to place car seat on frame. Fail. Curse under breath and look around slyly to make sure no-one’s watching me. Shoogle car seat around until eventually it clips on. Baby wakes up with a jolt and looks at me, doe-eyed and suspicious.

Getting there and parking was an achievement. What I hadn’t considered was how to best manouvere The Beast (the buggy, not the baby) through the door. Consequently I push, shove and barge our way in, a smorgasbord of arms, legs and wheels. As I wipe sweat off my brow, I’m greeted by a bemused looking receptionist and a waiting room full of pregnant women, no doubt taking one look at me and wondering what the hell they’ve let themselves in for.

“Oh, you should have left the frame outside in the parking bay”, says the receptionist, sizing me up through tilted specs. “But don’t worry about it now, just unclip him and bring him through in the car seat.”

Well that’s easier said than done love. I struggle to remove the car seat from the bloody frame, resulting in the receptionist having to come round and help me. Tom promptly wakes up and starts crying. An Audience with a Stressed Out Mummy.

Finally, we’re free and good to go. I’m given a ticket, number 14, and told to go into another room. There’s a lot going on in here. Babies are wailing, giggling and girning, toddlers are running around wreaking havoc. Well least if I’m a shambles I’m not alone. 

We have a long wait, during which Tom alternates between crying (please don’t cry, please don’t cry) and smiling (good boy! what a clever boy! please don’t cry, please don’t cry). Eventually our number is called and I carry him through. “Oh, you should have left the car seat in the other room”, the health visitor informs me. Right… Oh well, onwards and upwards. “Now, we need everything off, so we can weigh him.” “Including his nappy?” “Yes, then just pop him in the bowl.”

To my left is a row of baby changing stations. I place down Tom who by now is looking a tad concerned. Clothes come off (please don’t pee or poo, please don’t pee or poo), and we’re good to go.

  
I always think there’s something slightly amusing about seeing babies in a bowl. Surely they should be used for  butter and flour and eggs and stuff, not human beings. I’m half expecting Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood to walk in for an assessment. “He’s not quite crunchy enough.” “Needs more flavour.” “More salt please.”

Tom looks up at me arms akimbo, fingers splayed, and a quivering bottom lip. Uh-oh. “That’s fine, thanks, you can take him now.”

Back to Baby Changing Station no 115. Tom’s started grinning, and I’m so relieved we haven’t had a wee accident. That’s my boy, I think. I’ve clearly been worrying about nothing. When I look back down he’s crying. How can he have gone from smiling to crying so quickly?  Weird. Then I realise it’s not tears, it’s urine. He’s peed. And he’s done it so spectacularly it’s all over his face. And in his hair. And a little bit on the changing station housing another infant. Oh shit. Another little grin appears on my cheeky rascal’s face. Oh God. Now I’ll have to activate Operation Do A Runner Before Anyone Notices. But I have to await the results of The Great British Baby Weigh Off… I desperately try to wipe the pee off his face while sheepishly glancing around to make sure I’ve not been busted.

“He’s 12lbs.” The health visitor is striding towards me. “Between the 50th and 75th percentile.” I have no idea what this means. It sounds very scientific. But they seem happy enough with him. #Win.

“Oh dear,” she exclaims in a very loud voice. “Has he peed everywhere? I need to clean that up right now as we’ve another mum coming in.”

I’m now moving my half naked, pee-stained-but-still-smiling-babe whilst trying to unzip a bulging changing bag to extricate a changing mat the size of a hankie.

Eventually I lie him down and manage to get him fully changed and clothed. Tom’s nonplussed and it’s time for a sharp exit. I need a coffee. No, make that a tequila. Now where did I put that car seat? I turn round to see hundreds of identical ones … The Great British Baby Weigh Off may be over. But The Great Journey Home and Beyond has just begun. Starting tomorrow with Tom’s first swimming lesson…

 

 

Musings on Motherhood

  
A few ramblings on the best and hardest job in the world…

“The Travel System”

Four wheels, a frame and a basket bitty. I mean, how hard can it be to operate? Ah, how naive I was before becoming responsible for transporting a small being. Little did I know that the travel system (aka pram) is a serious piece of hardware with many pitfalls and perils. They have names like wrestlers. The Elephant. The Bison. We opted for a make on the slightly sturdier side. Durable. Reliable. Easy to use…

I’ve since discovered that wheeling it around your living room with a teddy in it is a tad different from stepping out into the real world while your child looks up at you with a sly grin, as if he can foresee the path of destruction that awaits.

I’ve bumped into everything. I took out an entire shelf at the pharmacy. Quite proud of that one. I also ran over a lady’s foot at the bus stop. Although she had jumped the queue so in my view was fair game. Baby agreed.

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In a word: No. 

“The Transfer”

Baby has fed. Yipee. Baby has fallen asleep. Get. In. You’re good to go. Now all you have to do is lift them into their cot/crib/Moses basket/snuzzypod/sniffytwinkle – otherwise known as their bed/pit/scratcher. Easy, right? No, you fools. This manoeuvre requires careful planning and meticulous attention to detail. This is deadline day (or night) and you have a slim, time dependent window in which to get this right. Substitutes will not do, you want to be right at the top of that premier league. Have you already removed the blankets from baby’s bed so you can place them down? No? Transfer won’t work. Have you ensured baby is definitely fast asleep? No? Won’t work. Have you placed a bowl of peanut M&Ms next to his bed, taking care to remove all the blue ones while leaping gently around while spraying his room with lavender oil as The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies plays in the background? No? You lose. Have you completed all of the above? Yes? Great, well done you. (Still won’t work).

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Parental Advisory:

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Sling yer hook

The Sling. An essential piece of equipment for the Modern Mother. Fancy being one of those glamorous mummies gliding about effortlessly with her baby in tow, hadn’t you? ‘La Maman about town’. Now all you’ve got to do is figure out how the hell you put it on. And then get the baby into it without screaming. Good luck amigos, you’re going to need it.

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Bambino says

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Poo

You know your life’s changed when you’re having animated discussions about your baby’s bowel movements. Colour. Consistency. Thickness. Frequency. Expression* I am the Faecal Administrator. In other words, a poo cleaner upper. “Hi, I’m Lou and I’m a faecal administrator.” Not dissimilar to The Horse Whisperer, albeit with slightly less impressive credentials. Get in touch and I will tell you everything you need to know about your newborn’s toilet habits.

*There is such a thing as an angry poo. I’ve seen it. Heaven hath no fury like a deposit scorned.